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Robert Chapman Turner, Bob Turner

Biography to Display: 

1913Born Port Washington, New York

2005Died Sandy Spring, Maryland

EDUCATION

1936BA Economics, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

1936-1941Painting Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1949MFA Industrial Ceramic Design, New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University, Alfred, New York

PRIMARY WORK EXPERIENCE

1949-1951Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, North Carolina

1958-1979Faculty, New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University

 

Robert Turner created simple, functional stoneware vessels forms that are now icons of mid-century American studio ceramics. Initially, influenced by classical Greek and Chinese ceramics, his mature works reflected diverse influences including Japanese folk pottery, Zen Buddhism, Bauhaus design and modern Scandinavian ceramics. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s he made functional, wheel thrown wares; casseroles, covered jars, vases and bowls. 

In the 1970s Turner begin to experiment making abstract, non-functional pottery following the approach to clay taught by Peter Voulkos. During this period he also travelled to Western Africa and returned to his studio to make distinctive vessel forms named after African peoples and kingdoms. By the 1980s, still working with the artistic impressions from his African trip, Turner reduced his visual vocabulary to cone and cylinder shapes colored with three basic hues; blue-black, red-brown, and whites.

Turner began his artistic career as a painter. In 1944, pressured by a limited income, Turner decided to pursue a career as a potter. Shortly after earning his MFA at the New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University, Turner was invited to establish the studio pottery program at Black Mountain College, North Carolina. In 1951 Turner returned to teach at Alfred and built his own studio at Alfred Station, New York.

An interview with Robert Turner conducted June 11, 2001 by Dr. Margaret Carney, for the Archives of American Art’s Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America is available at 
http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-robert-turner-12010.

Public Collections

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Clark, Garth. American Ceramics 1876 to the Present. New York, NY: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1987.

Dietz, Ulysses Grant. Great Pots Contemporary Ceramics from Function to Fantasy. Madison, WI: Guild Publishing with Newark Museum, 2003.

Hepburn, Marsha and Tony. Robert Turner: Shaping Silence; a Life in Clay. Kodansha International, 2003.

Levin, Elaine. The History of American Ceramics from Pipkins and Bean Pots to Contemporary Forms. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers. 1988.

Perry, Barbara. American Ceramics The Collection of Everson Museum. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publications with Everson Museum, 1989.

 

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California

Website: http://www.robertcturner.com/

 

Typical Marks
1951
1954
1989
Bottle
Date: 1951
Form: Bottle
Materials: Stoneware
Surface Technique: Glaze, Incised
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize given by Untied Clay Mines, 16th Ceramic National, 1951
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize given by Untied Clay Mines, 16th Ceramic National, 1951
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Covered Jar
Date: 1954
Form: Covered Jar
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize gift of Homer Laughlin China Co., 18th Ceramic National, 1954
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize gift of Homer Laughlin China Co., 18th Ceramic National, 1954
Photo: John Polak
Squared I
Date: 1981
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of John F. Turner, Robert H. Turner and Rosalind Turner Zuses 2007.34.2
Photo: Smithsonian
Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of John F. Turner, Robert H. Turner and Rosalind Turner Zuses 2007.34.2
Shore-White Chimney Vessel
Date: 1989
Form: Vessel
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
E. John Bullard Collection
E. John Bullard Collection
Ashanti Lidded Vessel
Form: Vessel
Method: Thrown
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auction
Photo: TMP
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auction
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auction
Photo: TMP
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auction
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Raku-fired Vessel
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auction
Photo: TMP
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auction
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Vase
Form: Vase
Materials: Nerikomi
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auction
Photo: TMP
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auction
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Vase
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Judith and Martin Schultz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schultz Collection

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified August 30, 2017. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/turner